Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Found Opportunity

"We must create jobs, re-house disaster victims, open schools and higher education institutions in preparation for the new school year, provide access to health care, prepare for the hurricane season, bridge the gap in state tax revenues, restart the administration and boost economic channels." Haiti's Action Plan for National Recovery and Development
"We will rebuild Haiti by turning the disaster on 12 January 2010 into an opportunity to make it an emerging country by 2030." Action Plan
The Haitian government, under its President Rene Preval is proud to unveil a $3.9-billion proposal "to rebuild the country on new foundations", in the wake of the earthquake that killed over 300,000 people. The Haitian people have most certainly suffered horrendously in the aftermath of that catastrophic earthquake and the tsunami that followed. Of course the Haitian people suffered previous to that natural disaster. Under this very same government, and its long string of previous governments.

The international community has always responded to Haitians' needs, investing huge amounts of money into the country's future. Somehow those investments never seemed to bear the fruit they were intended to. Perhaps something about the stewardship of the country? Ill choices, funding slipping mysteriously away. Humanitarian aid somehow missing the great mass of the indigent people urgently requiring it?

Strangely enough, that has continued, even while over 1.2 million Haitians are living in temporary emergency squatter camps.The government is still incapable of delivering the urgent aid its people requires. Mind, the markets are full of food and non-perishable items. There, for that segment of the population who are prosperous, above and beyond the impoverished plenty.

This is a government of a devastated country that relied entirely on the auspices of the international community and humanitarian groups to rescue it from disaster. It was incapable of responding in any meaningful way to the needs of its population. Haitians, weary and dispirited, trying to survive, some fed up with having received no aid, with having to face convoys of foreign reporters, are irritated and gloomy.

Their dignity sapped, they resent being objects of international pity. Two months after that earthquake, frustration reigns as crime is on the rise, rapes and sexual assaults are occurring in displacement camps, and while those billions in international air have poured into Haiti, there remain millions of Haitians "still desperate for food, water, shelter and protection from abuse and exploitation", according a report by Refugees International.

The big, really big question is why is this country so abysmally destitute? Even before this fresh catastrophe the country had the distinction of having the highest per capita number of NGOs in the world. A tsunami of international NGOs have set up shop in Haiti, over 10,000 of them. NGOs control just about every sector of agricultural and economic areas in the country.

What need is there of a functioning government when it is not required to govern and becomes non-functioning other than in name?

The new reconstruction plan to be presented to international donors at a specially convened UN conference in New York, insists on a dramatic transformation of the country, proposing to move economic development from the capital to a number of economic development zones. And the required linkage of roads, airports and port facilities to augment those zones' effectiveness. "This is a rendezvous with history that Haiti cannot miss."

The report which was prepared by President Rene Preval along with a team of international advisers represents an ambitious program that Haiti's government anticipates will funnel over $11-billion in international aid into the country over the coming decade. The plan has targets for 1.3-million homeless to be housed, rebuilding 1,300 schools, 50 hospitals, rebuilding the airport, relocating the main port, and the vigorous promotion of trade and tourism.

"The situation the country is facing is difficult but not desperate", according to the action plan. "In many ways it is an opportunity to unite Haitians of all classes and origins in a shared project to rebuild the country on new foundations." Now doesn't that sound utterly Utopian. Plan to transform a failed state into a new Utopia; simply invest $11-billion, no strings attached.

Oh, there are strings attached? The World Bank will oversee the investment? Hmmm.

Just as well, perhaps, given that aid agencies in Haiti are experiencing long delays in having food and necessary durables released from warehouses to give to desperate Haitians, because their government insists that first, duty must be paid to the government, on the internationally donated food supplies.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Russia's Dedicated Battle With Islamism

Russians are truly perplexed at the American and NATO military stationed in Afghanistan attempting to do what the Soviet Union could not. Among the Russian troops were Russian-Muslim military personnel to help soften the blow of invasion in Russia's attempt to still Afghan Islamofascism, yet 17,000 Russian military were killed in the 8-year process, before Russia was compelled to leave.

Some high-placed Russian military veterans would dearly love to know why their experience wasn't taken seriously. They fought valorously but in vain against a volatile religious fervour impervious to intervention. They seem prepared to overlook the proxy war that resulted with the U.S. and Britain training and arming the Afghan mujaheddin. In the greater interests as sometimes-allies, of aiding NATO by sharing their experience in defeat.

And now things are reversed, with the United States and its NATO allies bogged down in what will ultimately become an ignominious defeat at the hands of a country that has never in its long history brooked invasion and foreign occupation. The Western coalition hanging in there with the expressed purpose of leaving when Afghanistan is capable of looking after itself seems to be whistling in the wind.

Resistance, armed and violent and bloodily vicious is in the life-blood of Afghan tribespeople; not so evident perhaps in battling their own 'insurgents', but certainly there in spades when tribal divisions are dropped in the greater interests of defeating foreign invaders. President Karzai's invitation of governance-sharing with the Taliban true to form.

But what has Russia itself learned about repressing fanatical Islamism on its own soil? Precious little, it most certainly appears. Other than the loathe-to-admit reality that dedicated suicide bombers are not readily deterred from their mission to achieve martyrdom. And despite the government's vow to its people that it will secure their safety, it is quite clear it cannot. Deadly strikes within Russia, including Moscow, bring the lie to security.

When Russia began to exert its military muscle against Chechnya's break for independence two decades ago no one read the chicken entrails to determine the road ahead. Islamist Chechens were not loathe to unleash the terror of wholesale slaughter on army bases, hotels, government offices and rock concerts, trains, planes, buses and the Moscow subway where all told, hundreds of Russians perished.

Now the spectre of the Black Widows resurfacing with renewed bitter intent to become Shakhidy with the intention of avenging the deaths of their brothers, fathers, husbands and sons is again on the deadly horizon. What distinguishes them physically from other Muslim women in their head-to-toe black garments is the pouches packed with explosives that they proudly wear and detonate at the most favourable kill-times.

The Russian public is well prepared to support its government as Moscow threatens to exact vengeance for the latest atrocities in which two Caucasus women successfully detonated themselves, taking with them into the nether regions of hell 40 innocent Russian civilians, and wounding many more. Russia, therefore, is dedicated to wiping out the dangerous vipers sitting on its doorstep.

"A crime that is terrible in its consequences and heinous in its manner has been committed. the terrorists will be destroyed", vowed Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

How perfectly peculiar, come to think of it. While Russia is attacked by fanatical Islamists in response to Russia's attacks upon Muslim countries in the process of converting to extreme fundamentalism, Russia is also engaged in supporting, encouraging, arming, protecting and partnering with the most fanatical Islamist regime in the world.

In the final analysis, heads of great nations are as humanly fallible as those whom they purport to govern. For an electorate to place its collective trust in leaders who promise responsible governance while practising utter deceit both upon their own people and those of other countries, represents the ultimate betrayal.

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Monday, March 29, 2010


Surprise! Hamid Karzai, you've had an unexpected visitor. You are joining the ranks of heads of state who have demonstrated the temerity to irritate the President of the United States. But President Obama came to you, he did not summons you to appear before his august presence.

Still, the message he brought was a rankling one, certainly. You and your administration are corrupt beyond wink-wink, you see. Bad enough the elections were tainted, but you still have not, and likely will not accede to international demands to cleanse yourself and your administration of endemic corruption.

Wait: you've still got a winning card, haven't you? The Americans and NATO and military representing the international community (read: Western interests) are there in your country because they think they must be, to protect themselves from further al-Qaeda incursions into their geographic spheres. They need you, as much as you need them.

But you won't be needing them too much longer, it would appear. Not with the way things have been going. Meetings with envoys of the Taliban, with envoys of important tribal chieftains with blood on their hands through their rapacious pasts. Make a deal, dismiss the NATO forces and all will be forgiven.

You have, after all, offered to share governance of your vast country with the Taliban, should they be willing to call quits to what is essentially for you a civil war. One that presents as a holding war against Islamist jihad, to the allied forces you have invited into Afghanistan. The forces of Islamist jihad allied with al-Qaeda, mortal enemy of the West.

The UN, NATO and the U.S. urged you to conduct a major overhaul of the electoral system, and you did. You will now yourself appoint all five members of the election complaint commission; so much for neutrality. Corruption remains happily pervasive, despite the population's fervent desire to have it reined in and for justice to prevail.

The culture that has so long dominated Afghanistan is there and there it will remain. And of course as soon as the Taliban return to the fold all the Western-built schools for girls will be destroyed. The clinics, the civil infrastructure may remain, under re-structured plans more reflective of Islamic sharia. No more poppy-growing interference. Women solidly encased in burqas as is right and fitting.

The writing on the wall has been deciphered: "He's slipping away from the West," according to an unnamed senior European diplomat located in Kabul.

It's not hard to see why, since as you've said for years, Afghanistan must live with its neighbours. And if one of those neighbours just happens to be the most incendiarily-hateful enemy of the West, well so be it. NATO allies can empty their treasury on behalf of Afghanistan; worse, lose their native sons and daughters, but that's the way the world goes.

You and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad make a jolly pair, exchanging state visits and no doubt laughing at the gullibility of the West, their willingness to make extreme sacrifices for a nation like yours which will take whatever it can before turning its back on its erstwhile supporters and defenders.

From a week-end of celebration in Tehran to an impromptu meeting with the President of the United States. Who does not take kindly to uppity juniors. Take it from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Oh, that was one of the ticklish topics of conversation you enjoyed with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Good for a belly-laugh between friends and allies.

And discussions of closer ties with China with its extremely useful investments in Iran and Afghanistan, now that security has been beefed up thanks to that foreign troop presence, soon to be dispensed with.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Friends, Allies and Enemies - How To Tell Them Apart?

The Arab League, holding their most recent summit in Sirte, Libya, pontificate on their 'problem' with a neighbouring state which simply refuses to lose its intransigent spirit to satisfy their demands that it bow to their perceived needs and sacrifice its own real needs. Does Israel pose a threat to the existence of any of the Arab States? Does it threaten any of its neighbours with attack or nuclear bombardment?

Ah, it has offered grave insult to the supremacy of Islam within its own indisputable region. No matter its right of heritage, pre-dating Islam in the neighbourhood it has now re-settled in, re-introduced to old adversaries proving that old truism that nothing ever really does change. "It's time to face Israel. We have to have alternative plans because the situation has reached a turning point.

"The peace process has entered a new stage, perhaps the last stage. We have accepted the efforts of mediators. We have accepted an open-ended peace process. But that resulted in a loss of time and we did not achieve anything and allowed Israel to practise its policy for 20 years", lectured Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa. That does sound ominously sinister.

The 'last stage' of what, precisely? Fair and open and balanced negotiations? Reversion to the Arab Peace Initiative which demands that Jerusalem be divided, that Jews be once again shut out of their most sacred religious sites, that the country welcome back with open arms Palestinians who fled the creation of the new state, and welcome along with them their 6-millions-strong descendants, equal in number to Jews in Israel?

Where then the Jewish state? Why, of course the evolution of a bi-national state, equally comprised of Jews and Arabs. Israel dissolves into Palestine, and Jews live within the Arab-majority state on sufferance. Back to the conditions that have historically existed since the banishment of Jews after the burning and sacking of the Second Temple. How impudent of the Jewish diaspora to imagine they could return to claim what was once theirs.

And Mahmoud Abbas has made it perfectly clear that, thanks entirely to the kindly encouragement of President Obama he has every right to demand Israel halt all building in Jerusalem and the West Bank as a pre-condition to 'proximity' talks. As though that might avail results, when previous lengthy direct talks with the predecessor-Israeli governments promising all that the Palestinian Authority demanded, did not bear fruition?

However, President Obama stated unequivocally that critical parts of Jerusalem are 'occupied' and what greater encouragement does the PA need, after all? If all else fails, there is always the threat of newly-dedicated violence, delivered both through the terror-jihad option and that of Arab states which have thus far withheld their troops. Normalization of relations with Arab states should Israel submit to their demands would accomplish what, exactly?

Israel does have signed peace treaties with both Egypt and Jordan. This does not stop both those countries from maligning Israel, refusing to honour diplomatic ties and up-front friendly relations resulting in an exchange of common civility, one nation to another. Why, on the other hand, would Arab countries, long the enemies of a national Jewish presence in the Middle East, succumb to treating honestly and with justice with Israel when her greatest ally does not?

When Senator Barack Obama was campaigning for the presidency of the United States he spoke to the indivisibility of Jerusalem and his clear support for Israel. When Hilary Clinton was New York's Senator she was too was adamant in her support for Israel. She stated in a 2007 position paper the belief of "Israel's right to exist in safety as a Jewish state, with defensible borders and an undivided Jerusalem as its capital."

The "Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995" passed by a margin of 93 to 5 in the U.S. Senate and 347 to 37 in the U.S. House of Representatives. That very Act, which is American law states:
(1) Jerusalem should remain an undivided city.
(2) Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the state of Israel.'
(1) Each sovereign nation, under international law and custom, may designate its own capital.
(2) Since 1950, the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of the State of Israel.
(3) The city of Jerusalem is the seat of Israel's President, Parliament, and Supreme Court, and the site of numerous government ministries and social and cultural institutions.
(4) The city of Jerusalem is the spiritual center of Judaism, and is also considered a holy city by the members of other religious faiths.
(5) From 1948-1967, Jerusalem was a divided city and Israeli citizens of all faiths as well as Jewish citizens of all states were denied access to holy sites in the area controlled by Jordan.
(6) In 1967, the city of Jerusalem was reunited during the conflict known as the Six Day War.
(7) Since 1967, Jerusalem has been a united city administered by Israel, and persons of all religious faiths have been guaranteed full access to holy sites within the city.
(8) This year marks the 28th consecutive year that Jerusalem has been administered as a unified city in which the rights of all faiths have been respected and protected.
(9) In 1990, the Congress unanimously adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 106, which declares that the Congress ``strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city."
(10) In 1992, the United States Senate and House of Representatives unanimously adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 113 of the One Hundred Second Congress to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, and reaffirming congressional sentiment that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city.
One can only suppose that when the United States under the Obama administration 'normalizes relations' with Israel, the Arab League may return the ball to the Palestinian Authority with instructions to carry on, this time with the intention of achieving realizable results which may eventually bring a two-state solution to reality.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Trusted Allies

Something like that proverbial pact with the devil best characterizes the new trusting partnership between the United States and Pakistan, as America plans her exit from the war-ravaged country of Afghanistan, leaving it in the kindly, good hands of the Pakistani military. Oh not on the surface, since it the Afghan army and police that are being painstakingly trained to effectively do their national duty in their ongoing need to forestall another Taliban take-over.

As for Pakistan, it has its hands full grappling with its own home-bred Taliban. But it is never too busy to meddle in the affairs of its neighbours. And it is the military, as it happens, that appears to have the upper hand in the authority of Pakistan's direction. Able to over-rule the actual executive authority of President Asif Ali Zardari, where his predecessor was of the military. When President Zardari extended the hand of peace to India, he met with stony repudiation from his military.

It has been historically and primarily the Pakistan military and its secret service intelligence agency that has taken Pakistan in its direction of avowed and unswerving military and clandestine opposition to forging a peace agreement with India. Pakistan is determined to own all of Kashmir, as its rightful inheritance, despite Indian disagreement, clinging to ownership of Indian Kashmir. Who might make the more reasonable ally between democratic countries, the United States and India, or the United States and Pakistan?

Previously, the U.S. cast its lot with Pakistan, abandoning its long association with India, leaving India to find support where it could, and at that time it was within the orbit of the Soviet Union before its historical collapse. And having just recently signed a nuclear agreement with India, the United States is once again back-tracking, to make common cause with India's nemesis, dedicated to continued hostilities in the interests of fuller hegemony in the region.

After decades when the United States felt it had good reason to distrust Pakistan, it has suddenly discovered a good friend and ally in that country. Of course there was that era in the 1980s when both countries helped to form and encourage, militarily train and equip the mujahadeen sworn to defeat the Russian army which invaded Afghanistan in their attempt to defeat growing Islamism. Which worked all too well to establish self-confidence in the growing Islamist movement heavily invested in religious jihad.

The United States paid a steep price for its willingness to support jihad because of its searing hatred for the Soviet Union; their long-range vision evidently having fallen afoul of their due diligence. With the ruling Afghan Taliban giving brotherly haven to al-Qaeda, the American response to 9/11 was their own invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. And when India entered the picture as a peaceful ally to Afghanistan with the intention of helping it to re-build its civil infrastructure, while Pakistan was still encouraging and shielding the Taliban, the lines were drawn.

Still, the U.S. continued to invest heavily in Pakistan, doling out billions to that cash-strapped country under General Musharraf to gain their confidence and nudge them into abandoning support for the Taliban. That support only arrived latterly, when some of Pakistan's own mujahadeen and tribal leaders formed their own version of the Taliban with the intention of fanatically Islamizing Pakistan and unseating the government. Quite the prospect for a nuclear country.

Now the United States find it again expedient to side with and support Pakistan in its desire to bring Afghanistan under its ruling wing, effectively thrusting India out of the picture. This new pledge to broaden the two countries' relationship beyond defence and security into a more wide-ranging alliance will once again throw India to explore alternate alliances in an effort to increase her defences against certain-to-come further Pakistan-based terror attacks.

Is it then good will and open-hearted kindness, supplemented by a a recognition of the need to abandon their past tactics of supporting terror against a neighbour which does not threaten its existence that has propelled Pakistan into this alliance with the United States? Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has pledged his country to 'act against extremists'. However, the catch is, as always, his country is in dire need of 'assistance'.

Strange, is it not, that Muslim countries, one after the other, manage to make their deals with the hated West, as long as those deals represent an exchange that will hugely benefit their bottom line. The West asks for partnership against fanatical-religion-inspired violence, and Muslim countries agree, as long as they are able to extract sufficient concessions and military armaments and additional cash incentives.

Islamabad seeks a nuclear agreement mirroring the one Washington recently signed with New Delhi, giving it access to increased, technologically advanced nuclear technology - all for peaceful means, needless to say, since Pakistan is such a peace-oriented country. And should Washington agree to permit Pakistan to become an actor in negotiating an end to the Afghan war, its prestige in the area will be accelerated and highlighted.

And while they're at it, apart from the economic assistance, and technical assistance in water and energy shortages, how about new agreements in intelligence sharing, investing Islamabad with their own military drones, helicopter gunships and let's throw in a wide assortment of American military hardware. Islamabad additionally recommends that Washington work on its behalf to reduce Indian influence in Kabul.

Anything for a friend and ally, a trusted and responsible partner in the war against terrorism. A country which, by the way, seems to have no ethical or moral concerns that its own military and intelligence agencies, well infested by religious fanatics, still funds, trains and inspires vicious jihad against neighbour India.

New Delhi must be getting awfully nervous, right about now.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Imperious Condescension

Letter from members of Congress

Dear Secretary Clinton:
We are writing to reaffirm our commitment to the unbreakable bond that exists between our country and the State of Israel and to express to you our deep concern over recent tension. In every important relationship, there will be occasional misunderstandings and conflicts.
The announcement during Vice President Biden's visit was, as Israel's Prime Minister said in an apology to the United States, "a regrettable incident that was done in all innocence and was hurtful, and which certainly should not have occurred." We are reassured that Prime Minister Netanyahu's commitment to put in place new procedures will ensure that such surprises, however unintended, will not recur.
The United States and Israel are close allies whose people share a deep and abiding friendship based on a shared commitment to core values including democracy, human rights and freedom of the press and religion. Our two countries are partners in the fight against terrorism and share an important strategic relationship.
A strong Israel is an asset to the national security of the United States and brings stability to the Middle East. We are concerned that the highly publicized tensions in the relationship will not advance the interests the U.S. and Israel share. Above all, we must remain focused on the threat posed by the Iranian nuclear weapons program to Middle East peace and stability.
From the moment of Israel's creation, successive U.S. administrations have appreciated the special bond between the U.S. and Israel.
For decades, strong, bipartisan Congressional support for Israel, including security assistance and other important measures, have been eloquent testimony to our commitment to Israel's security, which remains unswerving.
It is the very strength of this relationship that has, in fact, made Arab-Israeli peace agreements possible, both because it convinced those who sought Israel?s destruction to abandon any such hope and because it gave successive Israeli governments the confidence to take calculated risks for peace.
In its declaration of independence 62 years ago, Israel declared: "We extend our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land."
In the decades since, despite constantly having to defend itself from attack, Israel has repeatedly made good on that pledge by offering to undertake painful risks to reach peace with its neighbors.
Our valuable bilateral relationship with Israel needs and deserves constant reinforcement.
As the Vice-President said during his recent visit to Israel: "Progress occurs in the Middle East when everyone knows there is simply no space between the U.S. and Israel when it comes to security, none. No space."
Steadfast American backing has helped lead to Israeli peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. And American involvement continues to be critical to the effort to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
We recognize that, despite the extraordinary closeness between our country and Israel, there will be differences over issues both large and small.
Our view is that such differences are best resolved quietly, in trust and confidence, as befits longstanding strategic allies. We hope and expect that, with mutual effort and good faith, the United States and Israel will move beyond this disruption quickly, to the lasting benefit of both nations.
We believe, as President Obama said, that "Israel's security is paramount" in our Middle East policy and that "it is in U.S. national security interests to assure that Israel's security as an independent Jewish state is maintained."
In that spirit, we look forward to working with you to achieve the common objectives of the U.S. and Israel, especially regional security and peace.
Now we know how an emperor from the days of imperial Rome would behave to the heads of one of his vassal states were he to have been rather displeased with the unfortunate one. Up close and personal, thanks to the advent of modern media, we have witnessed at a remove a present-day emperor addressing one of his country's friends and allies of long standing. A sour, ill-mannered host, U.S. President Barack Obama, gave the world a lesson in imperial truculence.

Extremely mindful of the anger levelled against him and his administration, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to a scheduled meeting well prepared for exoneration of guilt in embarrassing Vice-President Biden, only to be icily informed that if he wished to be placed back into a position of grace with the Obama administration he must agree to changing tactics and to follow to the nth-degree decrees imposed upon him.

The purse-lipped condescension which met Mr. Netanyahu's explanations would brook of no further feeble excuses revolving around security, sovereignty, civil obligations, or any other such incidentals. At Mr. Netanyahu's hesitation, Emperor Obama left the scene in high dudgeon, leaving the errant schoolkid, disciplined by the principal, to sit in a corner and contemplate his unacceptable behaviour. With a view, presumably, to assuming more acceptable manners.

This reprehensible rebuke to a political peer and ally marks a new low in political diplomacy. Mr. Netanyahu had earlier enjoyed a friendly welcome from members of Congress, and his presence had been warmly celebrated by senior Republicans. This was before reality set in, that the current principal in the Oval Office of the White House was mightily displeased and was not prepared to accept snubs or any mode of recalcitrance to clearly issued orders any longer.

That each and every dictate publicly and well-publicized issued from the executive branch of the American administration outlines firm directions that Israel is expected to take for the purpose of placating the Arab and Muslim world and providing for the Palestinians the kind of support they seek, represents a demand diminishing the bargaining status of Israel, is obvious. Each demand the U.S. makes further props up and encourages the Palestinians to its self-perceived 'entitlements'.

When the United States of America recognizes those 'rights' of attainment for the Palestinians, can the Palestinians themselves do any less? If those are 'rights' to be handed on a silver salver to the Palestinians what is there left to bargain for and with? The lopsided scale resulting from this interference in the affairs of a sovereign state, along with that of one that will exist alongside that state, has effectively collapsed any opportunities for balance, fairness and justice.

And in the process revealed U.S. President Barack Obama for a man obsessed with his personal vision of what is right and appropriate. Increasingly appearing to be the support of a patient he and the rest of the world view as being on palliative care which only their intervention is capable of restoring to life. While an existing, well-functioning, legal and democratic entity, thriving and in good health, is hung out to dry.

This does not promote peace. It promotes the appearance of peace-potential, but a frail one in reality. The cost to one side unbearable, to the other negligible, with the sturdy government and its effective management slighted and placed in danger, and the state-to-be rewarded for its successful propaganda, its refusals to negotiate in good faith, its insistence on pre-'concessions' from its adversary, its encouragement of violence.

As for the issue which purportedly began this current round of condemnation of Israel and its government: Jerusalem, founded with deliberation three thousand years ago by the Biblical King David is going on with its zoning plans which it has been working on for the past ten years. Its mayor speaks of a plan for some 50,000 housing units to be in place throughout the city; east and west. One third of the units intended for the Arab sector, two-thirds for the Jewish sector; effectively reflective of their relative sizes.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

United Nations Human Rights Council - At It Again

Well, that comes as a surprise. In reviewing all the material contained in the Goldstone Report the United Nations Human Rights Council saw fit to pass three resolutions condemning Israel over its relations with the Palestinians - and its policies regarding "Syrian territories"; the Golan Heights taken by Israel in its defence against the attack by a combined Arab army intent on dislodging it from its position within the Middle East.

One of the resolutions cites "grave human rights violations" committed by the Israel Defence Forces personnel in the Palestinian Territories, demanding that Israel cease its intolerable occupation of Palestinian land occupied since 1967; again the outcome of a defensive war against a well-armed and intent-combined Arab-nations army resolute in their determination to remove Israel from the map of the Middle East.

There was the additional demand by this august United Nations body invested in the protection of human rights that Israel cease targeting Palestinian civilians and the systematic destruction of their cultural heritage, while also making a halt to all military operations within Palestinian territories, and lastly, for the moment, lifting of the ruinous Gaza blockade.

As though there were no cause and effect. No murderous attacks by Palestinian civilians and militants against Israeli civilians. No systematic destruction of Jewish heritage religious sites, while Israel has continued to defend those of the Palestinians. And no reason to blockade Gaza, while Hamas incites to violence and Israel's destruction, and Fatah military factions lob rockets into Israel.

Which nations comprise the UN Human Rights Council? Oddly enough, the world's worst human-rights abusers. Libya, the original supplier of weapons and fomentor of violence, giving encouragement to terror groups, now supplanted by Iran with its investment in Hezbollah and Hamas, together forming an alliance to tarnish and slander Israel, both leading contenders for election this year, again.

Libya's International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination proudly proclaims it is "focused on the ideological systems of apartheid and Zionism". Its own dismally black record on racism and terrorism belongs to another dimension in another nightmare of a world. And that Libyan organization claims that Israel is engaged in organ trafficking.

Claiming also that Israel is guilty of ethnic cleansing, massacres, creating the world's "largest open-air prison" - the assault-protective wall between Israel and the Palestinians - "economic genocide" and loosing "hordes of marauding gangs of Israeli illegal settlers" whose purpose it is to launch pogroms against Palestinians".
"Now it is the turn of the dead, kidnapped and killed Palestinians. Their human organs, as reported in the press, can be a source of immense wealth through illegal trafficking in the world market."
And where is this blood libel, this horrendous slander published? In none other than official UN documents, published by the UN General Assembly, forming part of the international record being emitted from the Human Rights Council; lifted holus-bolus from Libya's fictitious, viciously polemical EAFORD tract.

As an addendum, the UN Human Rights Council recommended, through a proposal by Pakistan, that Israel pay reparations to Palestinians, representing loss and damages incurred throughout the Cast Lead operation in the Gaza Strip, last year. No recommendations were made for like payments to be made by Palestinians to Israelis.

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Struggling to Attain Fair Representation

Within Israel there is more than enough dissent on whatever government policy happens to be at any given time that the country hardly has time to rest between staving off attacks from abroad and those from within. Just as international ultra-left-wing groups find fault with Israel, claiming the country to be racist, apartheid, oppressively oblivious to the plight of the Palestinians, so too do groups within the country fault their government.

There are so many Israeli coalitions faulting the government for its lack of sensitivity to the needs of Palestinians, little wonder the government might feel beleaguered. But then, this is Israel, and the Jews who make it their home are a fractious, often irrational, irritable, curmudgeonly group. The ultra-orthodox make their demands for exceptional recognition, the secular try to ignore them and get on with their lives and in between they get on one another's nerves.

Of course, there are innumerable factions within the two larger ideological/religious separations and all those disparate groups feel equally entitled, all adding to social disequilibrium and resentment of one another. But it is the commitment of Jewish Israeli groups whose dedication to protecting the civil and human-rights entitlements of the country's Arab-Israeli citizens that provides a picture distinct from any situation existing elsewhere in the Middle East.

The Coalition Against Racism, whose interest is primarily in promoting equality between the two isolations within the country; Jews and Arabs, claim that legislation which has been introduced in the Knesset is purposeful to de-legitimizing the country's Arab citizens by decreasing their civil rights. They identified a number of bills which they defined as racist in nature, presented to the Knesset.

Their report, released on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, deplores laws enacted which they claim discriminate against Arab citizens. And claim they are on the increase. "There has never been a Knesset as active in proposing discriminating and racist legislation against the country's Arab citizens", according to the report's authors.

At the very time of the release of this report the Cabinet approved the largest economic development plan for the Arab sector in the nation's history. With this economic development plan the Government of Israel will address serious housing shortages in Arab communities.

Funding for the scheme also includes plans to address Arab sector unemployment. And includes as well funding for public day care facilities in Arab towns where only 18% of women are employed outside the home. There will also be funding allocated to the improvement of public transportation. Doesn't quite sound like neglect.

But the report implicates Members of the Knesset with right-wing agendas proposing laws to bypass Israeli Supreme Court laws. Some MKs openly seek the expulsion of the country's Arab population. Little wonder, in a country where the sizeable minority with its own elected MKs is belligerently averse to even recognizing allegiance to Israel, and from among whose members radicals espouse violence and occasionally run murderously amok.

One quaintly-observed bit of claimed discrimination is that citizens who serve in the army or do national service are offered benefits, but Arab-Israelis, who do not serve in those capacities receive no benefits. Amazing. And quite unlike Israeli Kurds who do serve in the army.

True, there is one seemingly draconian bill that would have the effect of imprisoning anyone who publishes or utters something that would effectively "bring contempt upon or discomfort to the country." That would effectively violate the concept of free speech, discomfiting as free speech is at times, even within the Knesset when Arab MKs denounce the country that has given them the right to represent their constituents' interests.

Another seeks to change all street names in Israel to "Hebrew names". A bill as well that identifies who can purchase land. And this no-brainer: that state funding for events marking Israel's celebratory independence as a day of mourning, a Nakba bill be cut off. Considered to be discriminatory; incredible. The state expected to pay for a day of mourning for Arab-Israelis while all other Israelis celebrate the state's independence.

Another report points out that there are a mere sixteen, out of thousands of government employees in the Negev representing Bedouin, Arab or Circassian communities, in conflict with a government decision that by 2012 at least 10% of national employees represent minority populations.

Given the country's split personality, competing interests, and Arab intransigence, balancing that item seems the least of its problems.

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Playing Hardball

The facade of American disgruntlement with Israeli intransigence is what the world sees up close through reportage in its daily newspapers - oh, and electronic media. The United States reasonably feels entitled to some 'respect' from Israel, and the Jewish state is behaving like its usual curmudgeonly self; selfishly. Acting in the best interests of the existence and the safety and security of the country is clearly offensive to the international community.

In not-too-obliquely catering to the inflated interests of the Palestinians, ever more entitled and encouraged by sympathy emanating from all corners of the world at its plight facing up to the intransigent Israelis, this American administration has made it clear that Israel has incurred its displeasure through sheer reasonless obstinacy. Hitting back, hard, when you're hit is obviously a prerogative only of other states.

Although Israel has lashed back at its critics, attempting to fully outline its ongoing struggle against constant violent adversity, it has become a futile exercise aimed at a broadly disinterested international community whose sympathies now lie firmly with the embattled and oppressed Palestinians. Who have done nothing themselves to bring value to their lives beyond extending a volatile grudge of ownership of the entirety of what they claim to be Palestinian.

Whose executive ruling body encourages its population to 'resist the occupation'; code for exacting as much violent retribution against the brutal 'apartheid state' as conceivably possible; no costs in human lives too exorbitant to soothe their aggrievement. A state of perception that Palestinians owe in gratitude to those like former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and the radical left who now own the podium, so to speak, in partnership with labour unions and leftist academics, along with countries like Sweden and Norway.

Israel does what any other country would do to defend itself, striking back when it is attacked. Each strike that emanates from Israel against a target hell-bent on eliminating it, further detracts from the presumed goodwill of the European Union, the United Nations, the United States who respond by a blanket condemnation of Israel, and through increasing their aid to the Palestinians.

When Israel announces a routine intention to build housing for Jewish residents within Jewish-majority areas in Jerusalem, areas legitimately their own, the U.S. reacts with horror.

When, at the very same time, the Palestinian Authority, which is to say Fatah, celebrates the heroic exploits of another of their martyrs who successfully murdered 37 Israelis in what came to be known as the Coastal Road massacre, there was no like response, but Secretary of State Clinton did ingenuously remark that this was a Hamas venture in glorifying suicide murderers, whether through ignorance or deliberate distortion of the truth.

The world has its opinion firmly set on what it expects from Israel, and the broad spectrum of violence it accepts from Arabs.

The United States, under the Obama administration, is playing fast and loose with its presumed 'undying' friendship with, and 'support' of Israel. Furiously chastising the country and its executive administration in public, to the approving acclaim of the Muslim world, and clandestinely undermining, at the same time, Israel's practical ability to defend itself from a catastrophic attack from a nuclear-arms-seeking Iran, among other enemies it faces.

Under this administration, there has arisen a refusal to honour previous arms sales agreements.
Concomitantly, sales of advanced weapons to Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have proceeded apace, to the tune of $10-billion; that should soothe the nerves of nervous American financial interests.

At the same time, the White House has blocked key weapons projects and upgrades for Israel, rejecting its requests for Apache Longbow helicopters among other vital armaments the Jewish state requires to defend itself, at the very time it has enthusiastically proven to Arab states that it meant what it said when President Obama promised closer ties to Muslim countries.

The solution is simple enough: required aircraft and weaponry will be restored for sale to Israel once it submits to American demands that it unequivocally surrender the West Bank and most of Jerusalem to the demands of the Palestinians. Of course these issues do not comprise the entire demands of the Palestinian Authority. True to form, whenever one of their demands seems close to fulfilment, they add others.

Another concern: how to effectively defend itself from a growing and increasingly professional Palestinian 'army', weapons-provided and trained by an especially charged U.S. commander in the field. There is always the real prospect of those U.S. trained-and-armed Palestinians turning against Israel. Added to the fact that Hezbollah is also training Hamas militants in Gaza. When a Palestinian State is achieved, both sides can then march on Israel; that's quite the potential scenario.

Israelis are growing increasingly concerned at their isolation; on the one hand resenting their growing pariah status, on the other reacting belligerently to that reality, as a nation long accustomed to double standards and betrayals. Yet, even while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed - while in Washington defending his administration's stance on the issues - that most Israelis are in support of a unified Jerusalem as their state capital, new polls state otherwise, with a bare majority now supporting defiance against the U.S., and a large minority urging accommodation.

It hardly seems to matter that while Jerusalem has been the most important geographical icon in Jewish history from ancient times to the present, representing thousands of years of heritage, compared to the Arab/Palestinians' claims of inheritance of the past several hundred years, the anguish involved in dividing Jerusalem for Jews is acceptable to the world community. Even while to do so will certainly result in Jews once again being cut off from access to their most sacred religious sites - which even now occurs with Israeli stewardship battling a rearguard response to Muslim denials of access.

Hung out to dry. So what else is new in this world we inhabit?

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Unprecedented Overreach?

For bull-headed grumpiness it's hard to beat divisive ideologies. Even if the purpose of the mission is abundantly clear; that it will benefit the society as a whole, bringing a vital social lifestyle measure into clear focus as measurable to any that exist in all other advanced economies, the linkage between Democrats and Republicans is so emotionally estranged that the most important reform in overhauling American health care remains one-sidedly political.

Fourteen months of bickering, remonstrating and livid accusations simply drove the two political parties further and further from any semblance of what might have been non-partisan agreement that the disadvantaged of their country deserved a better future. The health-insurance lifeboat could be extended to include everyone. If the wealthiest, most powerful country in the world could not accomplish at least that, then what true values did it represent as a liberal democracy?

Is it not the duty and the obligation and the need and the wish of every responsible democratic government to ensure that all its people have equal access to the fundamentals of decent opportunities for health assurance? That the spectre of disastrous ill-health hanging over the heads of 32-million Americans (analogous to the entire population of its northern neighbour, which does provide universal health care to its people) might be removed from the current reality of descending health status or financial ruin.

Instead the Republican faction of the political scene threatened in response to the Democratic cajoling. The hard-right Republicans warned of complete fiscal ruin, while the Democrats insisted the initiative could establish itself and be fiscally balanced. Powerful voices were raised in anger and roused political rabble-rousers to damn the very issue of fair health-insurance provisions as a ruinous diversion from more vital items like employment and the economy.

When truth is, employment, the economy and affordable health-insurance are all intertwined; indivisible in their interrelationship and their primary cause and effect. The bogeyman of permitting the elderly to die, of abortion-on-demand becoming a pathologically viral enemy of population growth fed into the national hysteria as polarization of opinion and ideology became ungovernably rampant.

And then, the almost miraculous break-through of an intelligent, principled, bi-racial academic becoming President of the United States occurred and startled the world as much as it did America. And that same determined man made good on his promise to bring universal health-care coverage to his country's people. In memory, perhaps, of his mother who, in her dying days, was forced to do battle with health insurers.

The bitterness that the passage of the legislation has elicited is fairly evident in the promise of no fewer than thirteen States of the Union to take the federal government to court. With the argument of unconstitutionality, forcing Americans to purchase health insurance. The truly alarming thing about this issue is that not one Republican backed this health reform legislation.

The divisive rancour between the two political parties reflects the divisions within the country itself, and the truly absurd thing in all of this is that with the negotiated alterations in the original reform package put together by the Democrats, eager and anxious to get the Republicans on side, the current now-passed reform package fairly well reflects a Republican -assuaged reform.

"We will run on a promise of repeal", according to the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. There, truly, is a house divided. Out of sheer curmudgeonly misery of temperament and affronted sensibilities.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Admonition to Bishops

The scandal that just keeps on going. A result, most surely, of not having been adequately addressed at a much earlier date. On the other hand, how might it have been, given that the Church hierarchy saw its obligation to covering up the abuse of children by priests, and securing its own reputation, in the process aiding and abetting the needs of the rogue priest, permitting the fate of their victims to fall by the wayside, regrettable victims of misfortune.

"You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry ... I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel", graciously declaimed the Shepherd of Christ. "I can only share in the dismay and sense of betrayal that so many of you have experienced on learning of these sinful and criminal acts and the way the church authorities in Ireland dealt with them."

Nonetheless, the ingrates are not satisfied; the church and its leading light have not been sufficiently brought to their abject knees of true regret. He failed to adequately condemn the bishops who were implicated in those mass incidents of nasty cover-up and to re-order traditions. Evasion of responsibility. "We feel the letter falls far short of addressing the concerns of the victims", said one Irish group leader.

After all, is that not the major concern? Having failed the victims to begin with at the time when they needed the concern of the church, the focus now should be on doing absolute penance, admitting unequivocally the rot that set in at every level of church management. "It must be admitted that grave errors of judgement were made and failures of leadership occurred.

"All this has seriously undermined your credibility and effectiveness", Pope Benedict said, chastising Irish bishops over the clumsy ineffectiveness and lack of concern over the past handling of abuse and pedophilia cases in their parishes. But wait, what of claims that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was placed in charge of the "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith".

Which department, formerly in charge of the Inquisition, was charged by Pope John Paul II of investigation of child rape and torture by Catholic priests back in 2001. Where Cardinal Ratzinger ordered that investigations must be maintained within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Church. News of the crimes of rape and torture were to be kept from public notice under penalty of excommunication. Secrecy was paramount.

Service to the victims of rape a mere by-product of concern, and little compassion therefore extended in the greater interests of forestalling the disaster that revelation of these occurrences would impose upon the Church. And now Pope Benedict can turn his attention to damping down the crises arising through new revelations emanating from Europe.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Israel, Lift That Blockade, Stop Construction!

Israel must heed, as that admonition comes from none other than the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Standing in Gaza, witnessing first-hand the still-unrepaired buildings that fell afoul of IDF bombs attempting to hit back at rocket launchers cleverly placed within civilian enclaves, it behooved Ban Ki-moon to gently flagellate the world's number one dissident-nation.

It is so unreasonable, so tedious and tiresome when a country like Israel - with the opinion of the world turned against it, and the Middle East Quartet and the Secretary-General call it to order - remains so stubbornly defiant. If a reasonable, democratic country like Israel will not heed the advice of the international community, how then can a moronic country like Sudan be expected to restrain itself?

Of course the fact that rocket attacks continue to blast out of Gaza into Israel is an unfortunate nuisance. And it was regrettable that a Thai farm worker was killed in one of those attacks. And while Hamas has abstained from responsibility for the recent spate of attacks, it is the de facto government there. Ah, it is Fatah factions who have pridefully claimed responsibility. Fatah? Israel's partner-for-peace in the Palestinian Authority? Can this be so? Ban Ki-moon, are you listening?

Israel cannot even guarantee safety for its Jewish citizens who wish to pray at their single most sacred religious site, the Temple Mount. For fear of offending Muslim worshippers who pray at the al-Aqsa Mosque, built over the ruins of the Temples of Solomon. "We will call for freedom of worship throughout the Temple Mount - even for Jews" said one activist, speaking for those wishing to access their sacred venue for Passover.

Israel fears confrontations between rioting Muslims and Jews insistent on their right to pray at their place of worship, denied them by Palestinians who claim sole right of passage, denying Jews their rights under the law of the state. State representatives do not deny freedom of worship to Jews, but remain concerned about 'security ramifications'; effectively closing down the Temple Mount to Jewish worshippers. So much for equality in a Jewish state.

Now too, for the first time in 62 years, religious Jews can gather for prayers at the rebuilt Hurva synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem. This is the same synagogue which was destroyed when Jordan captured the Old City's Jewish Quarter. And where, after the Six Day War in 1967, Jews were able to return to live after being banished from the area under Jordanian rule. With the re-dedication of the rebuilt synagogue, Muslim and Palestinian Authority leaders incited violence.

Persuading their followers that the rebuilt synagogue comprised part of a plan to seize control of the Temple Mount. Can one deal reasonably with these ignorantly incendiary mind-sets? Those who respond with riots, violence and hysterical accusations if there is an iota of a suspicion that some Western entities have held their Islamic beliefs in contempt, yet express no respect themselves for the beliefs of non-Muslims?

These are the people whom Israel is being bullied to hand over the Old City of Jerusalem to, for their honourable stewardship of the world's holy sites, encompassed by their determination to keep East Jerusalem as the capital for a Palestinian state.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Universal Morals

What's in a peace treaty? A reciprocal agreement, of course. Peace is not made unilaterally. Hard-line Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been trying for a year to impress upon moderate Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to return to the negotiating table, to direct talks in an effort to achieve a final and lasting peace. At that negotiating table, all matters relating to the final disposition of side-by-side states would be agreed upon, with each side having to make concessions to achieve that final solution.

There is just something about spokespeople, those in authority, those who profess to have the best interests of the Palestinians at heart, that forestalls their finally agreeing to a cessation of hostilities. They are, quite simply, wedded to hostilities; to their grievances, to their victimhood, to their 'right' to 'resist' the 'occupation'. An 'occupation' that is there, on territory that Israel has no wish to be forced to control, but must lest it erupt again into mass deadly violence against the state and its people.

And now, thanks to an irate U.S., angered that Israel sees little value in 'proximity' talks when direct talks have so long failed to reach any consensus, its loud and angry censure of Israel for 'insulting' Vice-President Biden by the occurrence of a minor, routine announcement on building in Jerusalem, has placed fresh fuel on the embittered, hostile grievance of the victims, resulting in little intifadas popping up in expression of righteous, riotous fury by the Palestinians.

Exultant that their nemesis has received a back-of-the-hand admonishment from their great ally. Israel, in the occasionally-jaundiced view of the United States, eager to ingratiate itself with the Muslim world, represents the laggard in the proceedings. It was not Israel that had to be dragged, kicking and screaming to the bargaining table, it was the Palestinians who were finally prevailed upon to grudgingly agree to proximity talks.

As the world sees it, Israel, as the epitome of morality, democracy, egalitarianism, and justice must make the sacrifices, all the sacrifices, for there is no cost too painful to achieve a two-state solution. And as the world sees it, the Palestinian Authority, representing the Palestinian people and the aspirations on their behalf of the Muslim world, of whom nothing can be expected as they represent the reincarnation of the village idiot, is not required to make any meaningful surrender to peace.

Not even recognize the legitimacy and the reality of the existence of Israel as a Jewish state; an expression they adamantly refuse to acknowledge, as it would be an admission that Israel as a Jewish state has a right to exist. Knowing full well that their demands of 'right of return' would be hampered were they to do so. Yet what they plan is to diminish the Jewish presence quite effectively, insisting on the right of return; returning the geography to its former state.

So the Middle East Quartet: United Nations, United States, European Union, and Russia have condemned Israel, on the principle that the stated continuation of building in Jewish-administered Jerusalem will proceed - represents an egregious provocation, an incitement to violence, and indication that Israel is not sincerely prepared to agree to peace and a Palestinian State. Middle East Quartet Envoy former Prime Minister Tony Blair speaks as an authority on the matter.

And speaking of authority and morality, the London Daily Telegraph has revealed along with the London Daily Mail that Mr. Blair has embellished his credentials as a Middle East expert in unexpected ways. An extremely lucrative agreement with a multinational oil giant with interests in Iraq where Mr. Blair is an advisor to the South Korean UI Energy through which he has made roughly 20-million pounds. Oh, and a separate 1-million pound sterling deal with Kuwait, on its oil future.

These are the clean hands that have the respect of UN chief Ban Ki-Moon. And in travelling to Gaza, and in meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Ban Ki-Moon insisted the Israeli Prime Minister call a halt to all settlement expansion. Chastising Israel for behaving as though it had legal access to the whole of Jerusalem. To allow indirect peace talks to take place, for of course, Mahmoud Abbas will not take part in any talks until and unless all construction is halted.

"We believe that these proximity talks should eventually lead to direct negotiations between the two concerned parties to discuss all other matters: security, water, refugees and other issues." Vague enough, but sufficiently pointed. Previous direct talks, however, achieved nothing. The Palestinians, in the end, refuse everything. They refused the UN-mandated Partition of Palestine in 1947 and have refused all peace initiatives since then.

When Ehud Barak was prepared to give Yasser Arafat just about everything he demanded for the Palestinians at Camp David in 2000, Arafat pulled back, unexpectedly. When former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered just as much and even more in 2008, Arafat's successor again turned down what might have become a lasting peace, giving Palestinians much of what they demanded. Israel is prepared to live in peace with the Palestinians, but then they always have been.

The Palestinians, and the Palestinian Authority that continues to urge its people to violent reaction to the Israeli presence, continue as they always have, from 1947 to the present. Their pathology of violence has long overtaken any good common sense they might once have been invested with. In swearing allegiance to Palestinian defiance of the Jewish presence on land they still claim as theirs, they remain committed to violence, eschewing peace.

The world is disinterested in the reality of the situation. They just want it all to go away. The Israeli state, being reasonable, is badgered and censured into being ever more 'reasonable'. The Palestinian Authority, recognized implicitly as being aggrieved and ill-done-by, unfortunate victims of circumstance they wanted nothing to do with, are forgiven their quaint clinging to tribal revenge techniques, their tactical lies and pretense.

Which is why the Palestinian Authority is able to commemorate the blissful martyrdom of a mass murderer who led a terrorist squad to remorselessly kill innocent people who just happened to be on a beach taking photographs, in a taxi, in passing cars, riding on buses. This Palestinian martyr to the cause has been remembered with a computer centre, two girls' high schools, two summer camps, a soccer championship, and finally a square, named after her.

Not a murmur from the international community at these questionable values. But Israel, building needed housing for its citizens in their ancient city of Jerusalem, whose municipal control is under Israeli authority - not recognized by the international community - has sinned unforgivably. Now that is unforgivable.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Plays and Other Entertainment in Gaza

Audiences in the Gaza Strip have been treated to an entirely different kind of critique of the policies of Hamas administrators. Formerly (as at the present) it was Fatah politicians who were famously considered to be utterly corrupt, assigning to their personal accounts funding from the international community meant to be used to better the lives of ordinary Palestinians.

Hamas was largely elected on the promise and the premise that they were honest; their earnest demonstrations of assistance to Palestinians with their generous provision of social services pre-election helped them immensely. On the basis of what they promised and what they presented, their power became formidable, on the election of Hamas to Palestinian Authority positions.

Now that Hamas has unceremoniously ousted Fatah from Gaza and completely taken over its administration, controlling the violence and the chaos that had erupted into full bloom after the pull-out of Israeli troops, those Palestinians formerly supportive of Hamas have had reason to doubt themselves.

Now, a new play has been launched titled Umbilical Cord, which gives both Hamas and Fatah short shrift in public opinion. They are both now accused of ignoring the suffering of Palestinians, selling out to Iran and the United States, respectively. "It's an escape valve for what people say in secret ... their frustration about the division and their anger over the foreign aid that interferes with decisions", said the director of the new play.

The humble working-class principals of the play speak of the dire needs of the Gazan Palestinians, resulting from the Egyptian and Israeli blockade of Gaza, since the Hamas takeover. Hamas seen as a violent threat by both of those countries, given its mandate - to destroy Israel on the one hand - and iniquitously introduce Islamist ideals wherever it can.

A character meant to represent Hamas in the play exults at having liberated Gaza - despite that Israel itself had exited the Strip leaving it to its own devices.

With the removal of Israeli troops and settlements Gaza melted into chaos, until the takeover of Hamas, instilling order in the territory, and along with it rigid Islamism and severe punishment for those who failed to adhere to their fundamentalist rule. The people, reeling under their condition of endemic poverty, reject Hamas and the suffering it has brought them.

The play is critical of Fatah and Hamas for not accommodating themselves to one another under one meaningful rule that would lift the blockade. The siege that they suffer under allows them only basic goods, and the local economy has dissolved. "We have two health ministries (Fatah and Hamas) but no electricity, no flour, and no cement", says one player.

"If you want to set up a faction just should slogans about Jerusalem and the settlements and the wall and incontinence ... You'll make a fortune in aid", proclaims the 'wise fool' of the play. An obvious allusion to the flood of compassionate aid from the United Nations, the European Union, the United States, in response to the plight of the Palestinians, incapable of governing themselves, of envisaging a future without hatred and strife, of accommodating themselves to peace with their neighbour.

"Gaza is under siege and every day the (Israeli) tanks enter. The steadfastness against the blockade comes from our martyred children."
" But we bring you money in exchange for your martyred children."
"F--k the money. Take my life and give me back my son. This is a dog's life."
"This is a scream in the face of the officials, because the people are sick and tired of the way they do business", according to the head of an independent cultural organization that produced the play with aid from the Swiss development fund and local donors.

"We wanted to force them to hear what we think about this awful situation."

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Just Do It ...

It's quite sad that a country like the United States of America finds itself in a perplexed position, not knowing how to react to a situation it has itself designed, placing it in an impossible reactive condition of failure to achieve what it told itself it could.

That level of hubris speaks hugely to the depth of lack of intelligence on the ground. How it could be possible that the president of the U.S. would not have been given adequate background to inform him that what he was demanding of Israel would not, could not play, simply because Israel itself had attempted time and again, to produce the effect he wanted, with the very same overtures, yet was rejected repeatedly, is intriguingly absurd.

There could not possibly be anything more Israel could offer irate, entitled, disengaged, disinterested-in-peace Palestinians than it had already committed to, and had thrown back in its face. Absent the total surrender of the land upon which the country sits. And that, precisely, is the matter at hand. The rabid hysteria emanating from the Obama administration over a trumped-up charge of 'insulting' it, through a routine announcement of a routine and commonly-practised event speaks to its infantile need to be obeyed on its terms.

That its terms do not match the existential need of what America claims is its great good friend and partner in democracy, the State of Israel, appears to have been handily overlooked in the rush to bully that country into a cowering, obedient servant reflecting America's needs. And that need, at the moment, is to be seen in the light of approval by Arab and Muslim states. For this is what President Barack Obama promised those eminent countries; that they would see a new relationship emerge with him at the helm of the U.S.

All those brilliant strategists and students of Middle East history who are advising the President of the United States somehow forgot to mention to him that it's all been tried before, and failed. And not necessarily because Israel wasn't sufficiently prepared to sacrifice much that it holds dear, but because at the eleventh hour, the Palestinians pulled back. Everything was never quite enough. The attitude being that of the old horse trader; if he could get that high a price, his goods were obviously valuable and he could insist on more.

The United States does not appreciate being made to look unprepared, it does not like to be surprised, nor does it care for a country so needful of its support, to prevaricate or to ignore its demands. Yet nothing stops the U.S. administration from publicly castigating its great good friend, causing it to lose, if not face, then any conceivable advantage it might have in dealing with an intransigent, grievance-laden, victimhood-adoring adversary who can sniff advantage to itself when it emanates from a mystified and stymied Israel.

If the U.S. is steamed with Israel that's a signal that the Palestinian Authority can call on its stalwarts to riot, because that's all right, they're just joining the bash-Israel festivities. Israel and the Palestinians have dealt for decades upon decades with building permits for both contingents within Jerusalem; there was nothing unusual about the latest announcement of a series of building permits to allow for increased housing on Jewish-owned and Jewish-majority land. The U.S. is angry with what it perceives as a 'right-wing' Israeli government.

Yet the current president has fairly well accepted all that his Kadima and Labour predecessors did in their search for peace, inclusive of a two-state solution supporting Palestinian statehood. Do the Palestinians, however, want that two-state solution? Fomenting violence on an unceasing basis does not bode well for commitment to that two-state solution, for instead of inciting to riot, Mahmoud Abbas could have resumed peace talks, not absolutely and utterly reject them, which he did do and continues to do.

The PA and its Muslim clerics teach Palestinians and their children to mistrust, to hate, to fear and to do violence. A conspiracy is afoot, they say, to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The PA denies that Jerusalem represents Jewish heritage, its antiquity. Each time remedial construction work is undertaken before and during which archaeological teams carefully sift the areas for ancient artifacts, the PA hold their breath and Muslim clerics deny such artifacts represent an ancient Jewish presence.

What they do however, is encourage Palestinian youth to riot, to deny Jewish worshippers access to their own holy sites, and continue to create situations of chaos leading inevitably to further aggravation of already dire relationships between Jews and Arabs. The U.S. administration's testy arguments with Israel over imagined slights due to their irritation over Israel's inability to reach an agreement with an unwilling partner-for-peace has them fuming, and in that process, further destabilizing relations between Jews and Arabs, leading to increased uncertainty and violence.

To punish Israel for its unacceptable behaviour in refusing to accede to their demands, needed defensive armaments have been suspended in their delivery, and that should teach Israel a lesson now, shouldn't it? The U.S. military has been ordered to divert a shipment of 387 bunker-buster bombs from Israel. Instead they will be delivered to a military base in Diego Garcia, where they will do Israel no good in defending itself from attack. This was, it was explained, a "political decision".

Delivery of the bunker-busters capable of destroying underground facilities such as nuclear weapons sites in Iran, has been deliberately held in abeyance by President Barack Obama's administration. A mutinous ally must be disciplined. But this is not particularly new, apparently, as President Obama has refused approval of any major Israeli requests for weapons platforms of advanced systems. Including Apache helicopters, refueling systems, advanced munitions and data on a stealth variant of the F-15E.

"All signs indicate that this will continue in 2010. This is really an embargo, but nobody talks about it publicly", said a congressional source familiar with the Israeli military requests. This, despite that in January 2010, the administration agreed to an Israeli request to double the number of U.S. military stockpiles. Bunker-busters as well as Patriot missile interceptors had been included in that agreement.

However, things change, allies become dispensable, evidently. The current U.S. administration, inclusive of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has given warning that Washington could reduce aid to Israel ... because of its construction policy. Diplomacy has succumbed to idiocy.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Company He Keeps

When one is inordinately proud of one's heritage, and resolutely sustains all that the heritage expresses, and in his everyday life intermingles with those who also profess pride in the same source and in so doing consolidate a general impression that they are at heart offensively belligerent toward those outside that heritage, they are a breed apart.

Which is only to say that human nature hungers to 'belong', to see itself part of an identifiable group, which is as a family, a tribe, a culture, a common heritage. Setting them apart from others whose experience has been other than theirs. It is up to each and every one of us to ameliorate the inherent observations and emotions of 'otherness' that is experienced when in contact with those not of the same background.

And this, precisely, is what the president of the European Muslim Network, Tariq Ramadan, prides himself in doing, performing as a highly trusted, admired and influential interlocutor between disparate groups, most most specifically the world of Islam and the world of Western thought and experience, inclusive of Christianity.

This is a man with a formidable reputation as an intellectual bridge between two social-religious-political factions which have a tendency to view one another with suspicion, based, unsurprisingly, on their past connections, and more precisely their historical disaffection with one another through disagreement with religious and social values, leading to violent conflict with one attempting to overturn the advantage of the other, geographically and spiritually.

Mr. Ramadan - so aptly named as a defender of the faith - is a scholar, an Oxford-based academic, a research fellow at St.Antony's College, lecturing on Islamist thought. His major objective is to reconcile Muslims and Westerners and to erase suspicions between the two through greater integration of what has effectively been two historical solitudes. His goal is to effect a "European Islam".

He is in Ottawa for two engagements; the first to attend a fund-raising dinner in support of a proposed new Islamic studies centre at Carleton University, the second, sponsored by the College of the Humanities and the Carleton Centre for the Study of Islam (as above) is to deliver a speech, titled "Identity and Engagement: Western Muslims and the Public Sphere", in his ongoing attempts to breach the gap of understanding between Islam and Westerners.

As a moderate, Dr. Ramadan has gained the trust of the general community, and the admiration of the vast international demographic he represents, the Muslim ummah. Yet there have arisen questions about Dr. Ramadan's real agenda, whether he is as he seems, whether his public statements which appear reasonable and pacific in nature, cover a truer purpose practised traditionally through the Islamic doctrine of dissimulation.

There are those within the Muslim community - some considered to be apostate, others less given to religious rigour - who find fault with Professor Ramadan's seeming double-speak; his public messages are often seen as equivocating when they should, for a moderate, be unequivocal. "Ramadan is a dangerous radical who, far from modernizing Islam is in fact attempting to Islamize modernity", according to scholar and Muslim apostate Ibn Warraq.

Apples do not often fall far from the trees that bore them. And Dr. Ramadan's direct forbears have quite an illustrious history as Islamists; his father, the Islamist Egyptian, Said Ramadan, was expelled from Egypt, arrived in Saudi Arabia and founded the World Islamic League, devoted to spreading Islam and encouraging the quest for Muslims to found a new caliphate.

Said Ramadan's father-in-law, Hassan Al-Banna, founded the Muslim Brotherhood for the promotion of Salafism, promoting strict sharia. Hassan Al-Banna distinguished himself by saying "If the Jewish state becomes a fact (the Arabs) will drive the Jews who live in their midst into the sea", at that time in history when the UN voted to create Israel in the late 1940s.

With Dr. Ramadan's distinct respect and pride in his heritage, it is doubtful that he would easily shed the ideas, the values and the ideological religious culture that bred him. Dr. Ramadan's father established the Islamic Center in Geneva for the purpose of promoting the ideals of the Muslim Brotherhood, once outlawed in Egypt, and responsible for the assassination of Anwar al-Sadat, who made peace with Israel.

Professor Ramadan is proud too of his family's links to other scholars, those who promote violent jihad as an integral tool of Islamic vigour and assertiveness, leading inevitably to the return of world-wide Islamic domination, a new caliphate. Dr. Ramadan is said to revere that scholar of Sunni Islam who justified the use of women as suicide bombers, while himself exerting care to never publicly condone violence on his own account.

But he has averred understanding that violence would occur under certain circumstances, as when he refrained to outright condemn terrorism, characterizing the terrorist attacks in New York, Bali and Madrid as "interventions". And stating that the murder of Israeli children through terror acts is "morally condemnable", while at the same time presenting as "contextually explicable".

When Ontario was flirting with the potential of introducing Sharia law into the province and throughout the controversy that ensued, including a denunciation of the possibility from Muslim women, Professor Ramadan gave his opinion on the issue on the matter in an interview with an Egyptian magazine that left more questions about his interior intelligence on the topic than were answered.

According to Tarek Fatah, when Mr. Ramadan characterized such a court as "...another example of lack of creativity" among Muslims, "His 'lack of creativity' remark was another reason why so many people feel he still adheres to his family tradition of the Muslim Brotherhood, but employs very sophisticated tactics to make his politics palatable to secular audiences". Chasing a Mirage, Tarek Fatah

His clumsy equivocation in an interview with Nicolas Sarkozy, when the French President was interior minister, where Mr. Ramadan spoke of a "moratorium" in the Muslim practise of stoning women to death who had been accused to adultery, took Mr. Sarkozy aback. Mr. Sarkozy had requested Professor Ramadan's opinion of his older brother Hani, who had endorsed stoning women to death under Sharia law.

So this is the man, a world-famed Islamic scholar, whom many suspect is not the enlightened moderate that he presents himself to be, who is speaking in Ottawa about the place of Islam in Western society, and specifically Muslims making a place for themselves in the West. Is this truly the best that Islam can offer the West in accommodating one to the other as equals?

"I don't see anyone today who is as effective as Tariq Ramadan in furthering fundamentalism in France", according to French journalist Caroline Fourest, the author of a book on Mr. Ramadan. She claims his celebrity is based on mouthing one opinion to Muslims, another to Western audiences. In an effort "to modify the secular state and help matters evolve toward 'more Islam' ... a reactionary and fundamentalist one."

That conclusion - led by Professor Ramadan's own words, actions and antecedents, along with his obviously-noted values, obliquely stated - is sinister and macabre. Occasionally, the mask slips and Janus is revealed.
The mythical Roman figure of Janus, among other things represents the transition between primitive life and civilization, between peace and war.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Friends, Allies and Neighbours

Hysteria at a perceived slight by a beholden ally has overtaken the U.S. administration. Their agenda has been slighted, their efforts taken as of little value, their prestige has suffered a blow, and they will not stand for it. Israel must be humbled, and the sure-fire way to do that is to unmistakably give very impressive support to that country's host of enemies whose totalitarian, anti-democratic, human-rights-abusing states surround it in hostile dudgeon.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, though in mortal combat with his adversaries in Hamas, took the opportunity to indefinitely suspend direct peace talks with Israel, when Israel responded to Hamas-driven border attacks by its attempt to restrain those rocket attacks. Not that the direct talks were going anywhere in a great hurry, but they might, eventually, have resulted in some meaningful direction not altogether futile.

After the long hiatus during which Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continually attempted to persuade the PA to return to the bargaining table, to no avail, the Obama administration stepped into the breach with its wonderful idea of "proximity" talks whereby a third party would shuttle back and forth from the Israelis to the Palestinians, to kick-start a dim level of discussions. As though the sheer force of suggestibility would succeed when face-to-face talks could not.

If Israel truly had no right to defend its sovereign borders and the lives of its citizens, then its attack on Gaza's Hamas terrorists might merit the cessation of peace talks. Such not being the case, it is abundantly clear that the Palestinians have no use for peace talks. That they grudgingly agreed to resume third-party talks speaks to their appreciation of the U.S.'s hard-ball tactics with Israel.

And with Vice-President Joe Biden stiffly upbraiding Israel for its undiplomatic contretemps, and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton castigating the prime minister of another country for his right to determine the course that country will take in recognition of its best interests, the PA feels further emboldened to threaten Israel with yet another intifada.

It is interesting to note that the PA diplomatically named a Ramallah square after Dalal Mughrabi who killed 37 Israelis in a bus-hijacking massacre before she herself died, a martyr, once Joe Biden left the area. This is in keeping with the PA and Mahmoud Abbas inciting Palestinians to violence against Israel, in their partnership for peace.

How discreet was the poster that read, "On the anniversary of the Coastal Road Operation we renew our commitment and our oath that we uphold the charge and that we will not stray from the path of the Shahids..." The U.S. administration has, after all, chided the PA in the past, asking that it refrain from deliberately inciting Palestinians to riot and to violent action. Reflected also in what is occurring now at the Temple Mount.

With Israel's stewardship of the sacred places of all three religions; Judaism, Christianity and Islam, free access is given to all worshippers. Despite which the Palestinians, who claim their new state must have East Jerusalem, inclusive of all those sacred sites as their capital, even under Israeli rule strenuously work to deny Jews access to their holy sites, adjacent those of the Muslim society.

Israel's safety and security is seen as expendable by the current administration; the United States has always claimed friendship with Israel, and that friendship is always available as long as Israel is careful to mind what its mentor tells it. Israel has jurisdiction in Jerusalem, the municipality has the right to determine where, how and when it will build, and the United States should be a little more careful about its perceived moderation in viewing one side's excesses and rage over the other's.

Unless their plan truly is to give aid and comfort to the enemy of their friend. A friend in name only, perhaps, but an ally, withal. The U.S. would do well to remember that when it requested that the surrounding Arab states offer a little encouragement to normalcy with Israel, the unified response was a stony disinterest. Just as America is fundamentally concerned with its security, so too is Israel for its, far more directly threatened.

Satisfying the Palestinians by sacrificing Israel will not produce the break-through in Western-Islamic relations that both the Arab-Muslim communities state will ensue, and Western, democratic countries hope it will. To believe so is to succumb to delusional fantasy.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spite Friends, Woo Enemies

The government of President Barack Obama has taken offence over a foreign country criticizing its intelligence arms of government interfering in the sovereignty and integral security of countries with which the United States has questionable relations. President Obama was also heard to have sharply reprimanded a foreign diplomat for his quiet but unfortunately-overheard remark that the United States was just doing business as usual, the proverbial 'bully on the block'.

And of course, President Obama is correct; as a sovereign country itself the United States has the right to make any and all decisions it feels are in the best interests of America. Therefore, the State Department claimed, in issuing a warning to its detractors, it will continue business as usual. And if it appears to the international community, or at least some members of same, along with the administration's opponents in Congress, as though it is spiting friends to wow enemies, so be it.

It especially took umbrage at remonstrations by Mexico and Canada that the United States had illegally annexed territories that belonged to them, and that they would very much appreciate return of said territories, thanks very much. Oh, and while they're at it, recompense in the form of monetary reparations would be anticipated. Along with patriation of certain historical documents, and kindly get to it. Time to re-write North American history.

Of course none of this actually happened. At least not since we last blinked. But what has happened is that the Obama administration has gone out of its way to confront America's sworn enemies, blandly overlooking bitter confrontations and incendiary threats and past atrocities to proffer friendship and understanding, while at the same time seeming more than eager to sacrifice its long-standing collaborative friends as a measure of appeasement.

While the Obama government claims it has no intention of imposing its view and its terms on Israel respecting the progress of peace talks, it has concomitantly brought pressure to bear upon Israel to bend to its wishes. Demanding that Israel halt all intention to continue building within areas of Jerusalem that are majority Jewish, and within the city's municipal boundaries. For it contends that only in this way will a peace agreement be possible and accepted by the larger Arab community in the geography.

This, despite the very real and persistent intransigence of the Arab world which continues to insist that negotiations are groundless without the surrender of the Old City, inclusive of eastern, northern and south Jerusalem, and the West Bank; so if surrender does not follow no agreements can be made. Negotiations with pre-conditions effectively sums up these demands, and if they are met pre-negotiations, what is the need to negotiate? And will peace automatically follow?

All the demands for surrendering hard-won, defensive attainments and heritage expectations are for Israel, to sacrifice that which is most dear to its people and the State. Notably, the Palestinians have nothing to surrender under these conditions, simply to assume all entitlements, which appear to grow from strength to strength. And, as long as the final demand for "right of return" is met as is insisted upon, Israel as a Jewish state will simply disintegrate.

No sacrifice too large to accommodate a friend, a mentor, and a supplier of arms and ostensible protection on a large scale. That Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has, under the unevenly awkward circumstances, attempted to satisfy in some measure these demands, with a settlement moratorium for the time being, checkpoint removals and the like is simply seen as preliminary and not accounting for very much of anything. The only incentive handed to Israel is international expectation and that, unfortunately is not sufficient for a country to surrender its right to existence.

But then Israel has long been accustomed to a lack of objectivity and even-handedness, from the international community. That, under this administration, the situation has been expanded, leaving it with no support from the international community is yet another unfortunate reality Israel faces. And Israel knows well what else she faces, having the experience of departing Gaza to witness it becoming a hotbed of terror-driven attacks against it. Which, when it responded, brought the wrath of the international community down upon it.

Under Ehud Barack as Prime Minister, Israel withdrew in 2000 from Southern Lebanon, and that resulted in Hezbollah exulting that it had defeated its enemy, emboldening it to launch attacks across the border into Israel, capturing and killing Israeli soldiers. Ultimately provoking Israel into response. Mr. Barak also inaugurated
peace negotiations with the PLO, taking part in the Camp David 2000 Summit to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that came to nothing even though he was prepared to sacrifice to Palestinian demands.

The series of Intifadas that expressed Palestinian rage over their condition of homelessness as a result of the creation of the State of Israel, laid waste for a prolonged period of time the very thought of a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority was formed as a precursor to achieving a Palestinian State; under the PA all the infrastructure for a government was to have been installed, and Israel actively assisted in training and helping to arm a PA security force.

The succeeding intifadas gave fairly resonant indication that all cautious attempts to try for a two-state solution seemed destined to fail. When Ehud Olmert's government bargained directly with the Palestinian Authority to finally achieve a lasting peace and the reality of a Palestinian State existing side by side with Israel, his administration was prepared, and offered to surrender to just about all the Palestinian demands. Sorry, not enough, back to the table.

But as with the failure at Oslo in 1993 with the accord brokered by then-U.S. President Clinton, despite all the hope and the fanfare, and the optics between the PLO's Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and despite that the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded the principals, nothing meaningful came of it, with Yasser Arafat deciding that, after all, it wasn't such a good idea, after all, and the Palestinians needed more than was agreed upon.

How much is too much to surrender for a peace that is questionable in its eventual attainment? Well, for the United States no sacrifice that Israel can be committed to make at the behest of her great good friend, is too much. And for the Palestinian Authority and its backers in the Arab world, no sacrifice is quite enough. For Israel, existential realities advise that there is a limit to concessions and sacrifices.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Softly, But Still Terrorism

Those whom malignant forces target for an aggressive campaign of suggested response to perceived incidents of taking the name of religious figures in vain embark on a mission of terror. Silk-gloved it may be, couched in polite terms of respect, and justice, and sensitivity, but inherent in those quietly deliberate verbal daggers lie the visions of what has occurred, and what will re-occur.

The newspaper Politiken, published in Copenhagen, has submitted to proffering a public apology on terms insisted upon by an Islamist law firm.

Of course, before this latest event occurred, when the original cartoons provoked a concerted and deliberately-incited outrage in the Islamic world against insults the Danish cartoonists heaped upon the Prophet Mohammad, other newspapers, taking full note, were exceedingly careful to write of the event, but not to reproduce those cartoons in fear of inspiring like revenge.

It was left to Denmark to defend freedom of the press, and to become a victim of Islamist hysteria, serious enough to result in deaths and wholesale destruction of property, along with a boycott of Danish goods formerly sold in Arab and Islamic countries of the world.

Even yet, the life of 74-year-old cartoonist Kurt Westergaard is endangered, with more than one fatwa having been issued against him, fulminations against him constant and unforgiving, and assassins willing to risk apprehension in the process of attempted murder.

More currently newspapers in Scandinavia received an admonitory legal notice from a law firm located in Saudi Arabia. "Over the past months my law firm has been contacted by several thousand descendants of the Prophet, who have learned about your newspaper's republication of the drawing, depicting their esteemed ancestor as a terrorist suicide bomber with a bomb in his turban.

"As descendants of the Prophet, these individuals feel personally insulted, emotionally distressed and defamed by your newspaper's re-publication of the drawing. They have therefore retained my law firm and instructed me to approach you. It is my belief that your newspaper's fulfilment of the above-mentioned conditions would be perceived as a sign of respect and understanding throughout the Muslim world in general, and your newspaper might thus help resolve the severe conflict, with your re-publication of the drawing has created.

"As you may be aware, this conflict is still affecting Danish and Arab interests, in particular in the Middle East, where a number of Danish products are still being boycotted..."

The law firm principal claims to represent the hurt feelings of 94,923 descendants of the Prophet Mohammad. The threat of the potential wrath of Muslims in those numbers falling on those who continue to take the sacred and revered personage of the founder of Islam and teacher of Islam's foundations, spokesman for Allah in sacrilegious disrepute is fundamentally clear.

The sinister underpinning message of the cease and desist order lest a new rash of killings, embassy-burning and other elements of distressed dissatisfaction with the West be unleashed is abundantly and realistically another manifestation of the power of the few to exploit the sensibilities of the many to successfully instill fear by malevolent blackmail.

This complementary component to violent jihad is no less successful in inspiring its victims to terror than the original dedication to chaos, destruction and mass murder. The latter manifestation of a more 'civil' type of repression of freedom of expression is obviously succeeding in some measure to silence those who attempt to face fanatical Islamists with the hyprocrisy of their ideology.

One can only wonder what might result if similar tactics were to be undertaken by those whom Islamists have slandered and whose lives have been shattered by clerical incitements to violence and mayhem. Not only has the West fallen victim to the viciousness of fundamentalist Islam, but we have obediently, as civil peoples, extended to them the methods by which they may mete out additional discipline through our supine fear of confrontation.

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